Food, Drugs, and Life

Struggling through bulimia, med school, and singlehood.

Days 14-17: surviving. March 31, 2010

Filed under: Ending the food obsession. — fooddrugsandlife @ 05:21
Tags: , , , , , ,

I am alive.  Busy with school.  Feeling like I’m on the road to recovery.  Have actually been starting to want things that aren’t junkfood 24/7.  Am still having the occasional binge, but they’re far less often and far less full of self-recrimination.

I have a 85 hour school/work week coming up and have a lonely day off for the next three and a half weeks.  Gotta love med school (ugh).  Will write when I have a chance.


Day 12: becoming a cookie monster. March 27, 2010

It’s odd, I’ve given myself 100% to trying to eat exactly what I want.  The eating only when you’re hungry part is harder, but I am trying to at least be conscious of where my body is at in terms of satiety, which is definite progress.

Unfortunately, I’m still living on cookies.  I suppose I haven’t given it the full two weeks that Geenen Roth did, but I still feel a little worried.  What if I always want to live on cookies?   I know the negative health effects from a diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fat.  But man, is that stuff delicious!  All I can do is tough it out.  Take deep breaths and try not to freak out over my ballooning thighs.  Try to figure out ways to sneak in regular physical activity to help calm down my fears over weight gain.  Although I’m starting a really busy rotation soon so that isn’t going to be easy.

A great thing about this process has been how many foods have completely lost their power.  I used to be able to eat an entire loaf of bread (or pretty close to it).  It was one of my binge foods, I couldn’t keep it around.  But now, it’s lost it’s power.  I have a loaf of bread sitting on my counter and I haven’t eaten any.  I don’t even really feel like eating any.  I have oreos sitting in my cupboard, and I realized that I don’t really even like how they taste that much.  A week ago, I’d eaten an entire bag in one sitting.  It’s weird how removing the “forbidden” label has done a ton to help reduce my need to binge.  It’s not eliminated, but it’s going down.  Slowly but surely.

I still eat when I’m not hungry.  I still struggle at night not to eat more than my body needs or wants.  But I can honestly say I feel like I haven’t had those feelings where I’m just completely out of control recently.  I’m choosing to eat this food, I know I’m not hungry, I’m recognizing that I’m using food to feel numb.  I’m still not entirely aware of what emotions I feel like I need to blunt, but being cognizant of what’s going on is at least a step forward.  And I haven’t purged once since I’ve started really trying to eat intuitively.

And today, I actually craved an icy-cold glass of milk!  Maybe it’s just because milk and cookies go so well together, but hey, it’s at least a food with some nutrition.


Day 11: dairy fetish-ists. March 26, 2010

Filed under: Dating leper — fooddrugsandlife @ 06:20
Tags: ,

So, I don’t want to just write about my food/body image issues.  While it is the thing that is dominating me/my life at the moment, it isn’t the only thing I have to talk about.  Honest!

I have ventured into the world of online dating.  Eek!  It’s rather terrifying.  I feel so desperate doing it, but I honestly don’t meet people very often who aren’t in medicine.  So far I’ve just had some e-mail conversations with a few guys.  And have gotten a few completely creepy random messages from some weirdos.  Such as, “Me, you, and a stick of butter.  That’s what I call a plan.”  A plan for what?  A heart attack?  Greasy oil wrestling?  I’m not sure what it was about my profile that attracted someone with dairy fetish.  Honestly.  What can you say to that?

The other thing I’ve noticed about online dating so far, is well, how incredibly lackluster most people’s profiles are.  So many of them go on about how they’re “down-to-earth”, “like to have fun”, and like “friends” and “stuff”.  Honestly, who’s going to admit to being a stuck-up bitch who doesn’t like to enjoy herself?  Part of me wonders what these people were thinking when they decided to set up their profile.  “Let’s show the world how varied and complex my interests are.  Hmm… what to say.  I like laughing.  Yeah, that’s original”.  Sorry, but I’m being incredibly facetious here; I have a very, very sarcastic sense of humor.  I’m just a little disappointed thus far though, gotta say.  No real gems yet.  It is a an entertaining process however though.

And the other part of my life?  Medicine?  Finishing up my rotation in the isolated place I’m in now.  I can’t wait to go home (and I’ve been counting down the hours for weeks now!).  Hopefully being back in my familiar environment with my familiar gym and the ability to attend yoga classes will help smooth my transition into recovering from my food obsession.  Hopefully…


Day 10: thighs, thighs, thighs. March 24, 2010

I think everyone has a certain part of their body that they’re fixated on.  The part that bears the brunt of their negative self-talk.  The part that as soon as you look in the mirror your eyes are drawn to and you’re filled with self-loathing and disgust.

For me it’s my thighs.  I have muscular legs.  Whether it’s genetic or the fact that I was a gymnast for most of my childhood, I always have, and I imagine that unless I become severely cachectic I always will.  My thighs are by far my least favorite part of my body.  They’re the least proportional part of my figure, the place I seem to gain weight first, and lose weight last.  They’re flabby and cellulite-ridden.  Plus they’re short, so it doesn’t make matters any better.  I’m green with envy when I look through magazines and see the gorgeous long-limbs of the models contained within the glossy pages.  How long have I started at Jennifer Aniston’s thighs and dreamt of how great it’s gotta feel to have such amazing gams?

Where am I going with this?  I’m having trouble as I embark on the beginning of this journey to end my food addiction/bulimia/eating disorder.  Allowing myself to eat what I want.   I know I’m going to gain weight.  Mentally, I’m more or less come to terms with it, but emotionally, the fact that I can feel how tight my jeans are around my thighs, the fact that I’ll need to go buy some a size up is upsetting.  In all honesty, I’ve probably gained maybe half an inch, an inch at most, but it amazes me how disgusting I feel from a slight change in my body’s composition.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative.  I’ve been in the state of self-loathing of my body for so long that I don’t remember a time that I could actually stand to look at my thighs and think, “hey, they’re not so bad”.  Even when I was the thinnest I’d ever been in my adult life last summer.  I still hated them.

I’m trying not to let these feelings of doubt derail my plan.  I’ve caught myself counting calories, thinking about how I should eat less etc., all in order so that they’ll fit back into my jeans comfortably.  I can’t let these thoughts sidetrack me into not making progress in my recovery from food addiction.  As hard as it is.

I keep forgetting the positives.  The fact that having muscular legs is what allows me to still be able to go gymnastics and still manage to do flips and tricks that if I had scrawny chicken legs I wouldn’t be able to.  It allows me to get such height when I’m tumbling that the rest of the class envies me.  Does it matter that they’re covered with an extra half-inch, or inch of subcutaneous tissue?  Honestly?  No.  Most people probably wouldn’t even notice.  It’s me that notices, me that cares, me that obsesses over their girth.  I doubt my friends have ever thought to themselves, “Oh yeah she’s got a pretty decent figure except for those big-ass thighs”.  Really, I need to be honest with myself.  I’m not sure if I’m going to manage to ever love them, but I hope I can someday look in the mirror and not have a single negative thought enter my mind.  Lofty goals, lofty goals.

In terms of my struggling through how to eat intuitively, well, I’m still struggling.  I’m having trouble realizing when I’m hungry except when I’m completely ravenous.  The book I’m reading asks you to rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being so hungry you’re about to bite off someone’s arm; 10 so stuffed you’re going to be sick).  I can recognize when I get down to a 2.  But figuring out when I’m at a 3, 4, or 5 is tough.  Also difficult is recognizing when I’m satisfied.  I can easily recognize when I’ve overdone it and made it to a 8 or higher.  But the difference between a 5, 6, and 7, is also challenging.  So many years of ignoring what you’re body has to say isn’t easy.  But every time I sit and actually try to listen to what my body is telling me is a step in the right direction.

And I’m still eating cookies for pretty much every meal.  The author of the book said she lived off chocolate chip cookies for her first two weeks before she finally got sick and tired of them.   I’m a sugar cookie fanatic, so we’ll see how long it takes me before I start craving food with actual nutrition.  I hope it happens before I get scurvy!  But I’m willing to stick it out.  No matter how my thighs suffer.  Which is really, really hard.  But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, right?


Day 9: change is coming. March 23, 2010

Wow.  I think this might actually work.  Yesterday, while I ate far more than I probably should have, I managed to do some while staying mindful of what I was eating.  I actually paid attention to what and how much I ate as well as my body’s cues as to when it was hungry and when it was full.   Was it easy?  Oh god no.  It was hard for me not to give in and eat before bed, which is always my worst time for bingeing (and I did, but I didn’t binge.  Yes I ate, but I didn’t lose control over my eating).

The biggest success though?  For the first time in I don’t even know how long I was able to have a binge food around and not either devour it all or have to throw it out so it wouldn’t tempt me.  This is a huge, huge, huge step.  I think there’s really something to this idea of removing the “forbidden” label from foods.  They have so much less power if you know you can eat them every day for the rest of your life if you so desire.  You don’t have to cram as much in today because tomorrow (it’s always tomorrow) you’re starting fresh, no more giving in to this weakness.

The hardest part about this learning to pay attention to your body, and giving yourself the freedom to eat whatever foods you so desire is the fact that initially, you will gain weight.  It’s next to impossible not to.  You still haven’t learned your body’s cues as to when it’s hungry, and when it’s full, and you’ve given yourself free reign to eat all the foods you’ve not allowed yourself for so long.  It’s hard not to overdo it at first.  Also there will be binges, it’s not a habit you can break overnight.  I’m terrified of gaining weight, but I’d been doing a pretty good job of it recently without accomplishing much in terms of overcoming my food addiction, so well, here goes nothing.

It’s also hard overcoming the guilt as to eating things you’re “not supposed to”.  I had cookies for supper, and cookies for breakfast, and am having cookies for dinner again.  Is it easy to eat these foods without feeling as though I shouldn’t?  No.  But wow, do they ever taste good when you actually give yourself the opportunity to properly taste them, instead of shoveling them into your mouth so quickly you barely chew.  And eating them when you’re actually physically hungry?  Even better.

Today I also had some big chunks of time where I didn’t think about food at all.  I wasn’t obsessing over what I was going to have for lunch or dinner.  I’m realizing that when I’m hungry I can eat whatever it is I feel like.  How incredibly freeing.  I was in such a better mood today.

I know there will inevitably be hiccups down the line, and things will not go this smoothly.  I will slip up.  I will struggle not to binge at night.  But I finally feel as though I’m taking steps in the right direction.  And wow, does it feel awesome.


Day 8: starting over. March 22, 2010

After a week of trying to make some steps forward in battling bulimia, I haven’t gotten very far.  I feel like I’ve probably taken a giant leap  backwards if anything.

Last night was terrible.  I binged and purged.  And binged.  And purged.  Over and over until I was finally exhausted and headed to bed with my stomach full and my heart aching.

I woke up this morning and felt horrendous.  I was suffering from a severe sugar hangover.  I’m not sure if other people get this experience, but if I have enough crap the day before, I feel completely rotten the next day; and it’s not just in my mind.  Not only was I feeling awful mentally and physically from my stupidity yesterday, but I can still feel what I’ve done to my stomach.  I was retching this morning after I had swallowed nothing more than my multivitamin and a sip of water.  My stomach was severely not impressed with the abuse I’d put it through.  This is scary.  I don’t know what I’ve done to my body, and how long-lasting the harm will be.

I was at the grocery store yesterday filling my cart with all items that were going to make up my binge when a magazine caught my eye.  I’ve never really paid much attention to Oprah; I don’t own a TV, and her magazine seems targeted towards a different group (i.e. those who have the time to watch daytime TV).  It was an article about how she conquered her battle with food once and for all.  What EDer could not purchase this magazine with an enticing title like that?

The article was about a new book.  I’ve stumbled upon a few of this author’s books before, but never really picked one up, it struck me as  promoting an unrealistic message.  “Eat whatever you want and lose weight!”  The article however was completely different than what I was expecting.  She talked about how to get to the goal that I hope the achieve: learning to have a healthy balance with food.  Well, that was good enough for me to buy one of her books.  If I was desperate enough to try reading a Dr. Phil missive on dieting, what did I have to lose?

So I’m reading a book on how to stop emotional eating.  Her latest is sold out (most likely due to Oprah’s recommendation)!  I can’t believe how insightful some of the things she has to say on binge eating.  A couple that really resonated with me:

“If you want food and you’re not hungry it’s a good indicator that you want something less tangible but don’t know what it is or feel that you might not be able to get it.  You can use the desire to eat when you are not hungry as an indicator that you need something less material than food and that until you stop eating, you cannot discover what that might be.”

“As long as there is that voice of “not allowed”, as long as there are foods you feel you shouldn’t eat, you create struggle and conflict.  As long as there is struggle, there is bingeing.  And as long as there is bingeing there is fear about eating what you want.”

This book details how she overcome her own binge eating disorder.  It’s got a series of steps on how to take steps in order to be free of a food addiction.  This is the first piece of literature I’ve ever come across that seems like it can actually help someone move forward in stopping being obsessed with food; everything else I’ve ever tried to read inevitably puts food into “good” and “bad” categories.  Example: don’t keep anything around that you overeat.  This is all well and good, but I mean, it’s telling yourself you have no self control, and never will over food.

So, new step 1.  Banning junkfood clearly isn’t helping.  Knowing that it’s forbidden is fueling the binge and purge cycle.  I’m going to try to listen to the advice laid out in this book.  Stop making food forbidden.  Eek.  What a terrifying thought!  Keep forbidden food in the house.  In a quantity that you can’t possibly consume in one sitting (even for a b+p’er).  Realize that it’s there.  It’s not going anywhere, you can have it tomorrow.  And then next day.  And the next month if that’s what you want.   So today, I’ve got one of my typical binge foods sitting in my cupboard.  And shockingly enough, it’s been there for the last 4 hours without me touching it.  Have I thought about it?  Yup.  But have I felt that overwhelming urge that I “must have it now!”  Strangely enough no.  Knowing that I’m “allowed” to eat it for any meal, for as many days as I want takes away a lot of it’s power.

There’s a ton of advice to try in this book.  It’s going to be rough, but I’m going to try.  I know that it’ll be extremely hard and that I’ll inevitably have slip ups, but for the first time in I don’t know how long, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Day 7: healthy food obsessions are still obsessions. March 21, 2010

Disclaimer: this post contains my random musings something I’ve noticed about ED blogs.  I am sincerely not trying to offend anyone by these comments.  I know recovering from ED is highly individualized, and I don’t want to belittle anyone’s efforts.

With that said…

Another thing I’ve noticed in the wide-world of eating disorder blogs (I have trouble writing “ED” because I still think “erectile dysfunction” instead of eating disorder, another digression, I apologize) is how many people who are recovering from their eating disorders/disordered eating have blogs that revolve about food.  There are dozens of blogs from people detailing every morsel of food that they ingest, including pictures, and even calorie counts etc.

Maybe it’s a fundamental difference between being bulimic versus anorexic.  I am happy for these people who have converted eating next to nothing and starving themselves into eating regularly.  I think it’s a huge step forward.

But honestly, I don’t want to do that.  To me is still seems as though this is disordered eating.  The obsession with food is still there, although transferred from avoiding food completely into compulsively planning and detailing their daily intake.  I sincerely hope I don’t offend anyone with this post, I just feel that in the long run, I don’t want to list everything that enters my body; I don’t even want to think about what I eat overmuch.  I desire, so strongly, to remember how to eat intuitively.  Eat when I’m hungry.  Stop when I’m full.  Not be thinking about food constantly in between those periods.  Not obsess over what I eat, what I have eaten, what I will eat.  Yes, I want to eat a diet that focuses on nutritious foods, but is still realistic about things.  I realize how big of a goal this is after struggling with food obsession for as long as I can remember, but the times I’m happiest are those when I am doing something and it keeps me occupied enough that the thoughts of food don’t even enter my head.  Those rare days (for me) when suddenly your stomach is rumbling and you realize how long it’s been since you’ve last had something to eat.  Instead of having just had breakfast and thinking, “okay, when’s lunch?”

Maybe it would be helpful to list out everything I eat.  Every diet known to mankind states the importance of keeping a dietary journal.  Maybe having to put in writing just how much I eat when I binge would be a deterrent.  But at the end of the day, when I hope that I can say I am firmly on the path of recovery, I don’t want my life to revolve around food, even if it’s the healthiest, most nutritious food on earth.  Maybe I’ll take a cue from these blogs.  I won’t share every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I will share what happens when I lose control.  Maybe seeing it written will help me make sense of it.  Maybe it’ll help me stop.  Maybe it’ll be completely counterproductive and make me think even more about food.  Who knows.  I think it’d be worth a try.

So I have one more week in this god-forsaken place for this school rotation.  I can’t wait to be home.  I don’t want to sugar-coat things and pretend that once I get home everything will be fine and dandy.  This isn’t a problem that is going away.  Yes, it’ll probably be a bit easier when I’m home and have the comforts of home to make me happy; but it’s not going to fix everything.  The worst is that I keep thinking to myself how everyone is going to notice how fat I’ve gotten since I’ve been away over the last month and a half.  I feel so ashamed and disgusted about this.  And yet, I’m sitting here on my ass without the motivation to get up and go exercise.  Maybe I’ll try that 5-HTP supplement that was mentioned… that’ll fix everything, right?